1. #1

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    A couple of years ago Bruce Forman laid out his 10 tunes everyone should know (“Mother Tunes”) and why on his GuitarWank podcast (Ep. 99V). I was studying with Bruce at the time and I made an annotation of the show so I could easily locate tunes/topics. It’s certainly a worthwhile listen for anyone wanting a good starting place to build your repertoire or re-touching base with some of the foundational tunes and what they have to offer.

    Here’s a link to the Podcast:
    GuitarWank: Guitarwank - Episode 99V April 30th, 2018 on Apple Podcasts

    Download link to the audio file (mp3):
    Dropbox - Guitarwank - Episode 99V April 30th 2018.mp3 - Simplify your life

    Download link to the annotation (pdf):
    Dropbox - Annotation of Bruce Forman on 10 Tunes You Should Know and Why (GuitarWank 99v).pdf - Simplify your life

    The GuitarWank website:
    GuitarWank


    The Annotation:

    00:00:00-00:00:30 Theme

    00:00:30-00:09:00 Troy’s Intro

    00:09:00-00:13:50 Bruce’s Intro/Contest Info/Jokes

    00:13:50-00:17:00 Overall Motivation - “Why these tunes?”

    00:17:00-00:20:40 “You have to do the work, the analysis, for yourself.”

    00:20:40-00:21:25 Troy: Devil’s Advocate

    00:20:25-00:22:45 The Blues and Rhythm Changes are a given

    00:22:45-00:31:25: Summertime
    “The melody is directing where the harmony is going”; general rule: always learn the melody - “it’s your best solo”; “the melody notes are the ‘hangers’ for the harmony”

    00:31:25-00:41:40: Honeysuckle Rose A study in ii-V7-I. Opening phrase is a ubiquitous Bird motif. Interesting bridge harmony - goes to ii-V7 of IV and walks back to I.
    (00:36:10) Buddy Jones/Bird story
    (00:40:00) learn “Scrapple from the Apple” as a source of solo ideas

    00:41:40-00:46:15: Take the A Train Introduces the II7 chord; again the melody outlines the harmony

    00:46:15-00:58:15: Autumn Leaves
    The melody is a great example of sequencing that should inspire improvised lines. Excellent study of harmonic sequences in the major and the relative minor. Also has an interesting form - AABC or AAB(long)
    (00:48:30) Troy asks about learning tunes in all keys. Bruce says learning in all keys is not learning/memorizing it 12 times - it’s really learning the melodic intervals and harmonic movement/sequences and then moving them to other locations. "When I started out, you didn't know a tune unless you could play it in every key; now you're a f**king genius if you know it in every key."
    (00:54:10) Tips: learn melodies all over the neck starting with all four fingers. Play through the chords in zones of 4-6 frets.

    00:58:15-01:04:45: All the Things You Are
    Best study of the cycle of fifths. Almost all the melody notes are the 3rd. Difficult tune because of the key shifts. Take your time; play through slowly over and over.

    01:04:45-01:08:00: There Will Never Be Another You
    Great example of backcycling. The melody notes are the hangers. A1A2 form.

    01:08:00-01:10:30: Just Friends
    Starts on the IV chord and works its way to I. Common sequences. Melody notes are also the hangers here. Needs a turnaround at the end that takes you back to IV, not I. A1A2 form.

    01:10:30-01:15:00: On Green Dolphin Street
    Triadic shift: I-bIII-II-bII. A1A2 form. Miles’ version of the second A (root movement and m7b5-V7s) is standard, the original is a great option (diminished chords and II7).

    01:15:00-01:20:10: Ain’t Misbehavin’(alt. It Could Happen to You)
    Ascending chromatic bass movement (I-biIdim-ii-biiidim). m7b5-V7 is a common substitution (I-iiim7b5/VI7b9-ii-#ivmin7b5/VII7b9-IV).

    01:20:10-01:21:00: Stella by Starlight Everybody plays it. It’s a mystery. Learn it.

    01:21:00-END : Wrap up. If you put in the work, these tunes will give you a good basis to move forward in playing jazz. Make playlist of great versions of these and listen. Learn the words. Remember the hangers (the melody)! The melody IS the song.

    The List
    Summertime
    Honeysuckle Rose
    Take the A Train
    Autumn Leaves
    All The Things You Are
    There Will Never Be Another
    You Just Friends
    Green Dolphin Street
    Ain’t Misbehaving
    Stella by Starlight
    Plus...
    (Blues)
    (Rhythm Changes)


    Cheers!
    Last edited by BickertRules; 01-13-2021 at 08:32 AM.

  2.  

    The Jazz Guitar Chord Dictionary
     
  3. #2

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    Thanks for doing this!
    I listened to that podcast some time back.
    Bruce is a great player and seems like a fun guy----great sense of humor.
    I like the list.

  4. #3

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    Do people really need to be told that the harmony is informed by the melody? And why refer to the melody as "hangers"? What does that even mean?

  5. #4

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    Quote Originally Posted by T100_guy
    Do people really need to be told that the harmony is informed by the melody? And why refer to the melody as "hangers"? What does that even mean?
    Bruce Forman says he knows about 800 tunes and can play the chords for each one, just by remembering the melody. He does not try to memorise 800 chord progressions.

    His analogy is that the melody acts like a clothes-hanger, the clothes on it are like the harmony (chord progression). When he retrieves the melody from his memory, all the harmony comes with it.

    A lot of this is down to recognising chunks of common chord moves which crop up over and over again in tunes. Also being able to play them in any key. (He has done a masterclass video about this).

  6. #5
    Blue Bossa is often in that group.

  7. #6

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    Quote Originally Posted by grahambop
    Bruce Forman says he knows about 800 tunes and can play the chords for each one, just by remembering the melody. He does not try to memorise 800 chord progressions.

    His analogy is that the melody acts like a clothes-hanger, the clothes on it are like the harmony (chord progression). When he retrieves the melody from his memory, all the harmony comes with it.

    A lot of this is down to recognising chunks of common chord moves which crop up over and over again in tunes. Also being able to play them in any key. (He has done a masterclass video about this).
    I do the same thing.

  8. #7

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    Quote Originally Posted by grahambop
    Bruce Forman says he knows about 800 tunes and can play the chords for each one, just by remembering the melody. He does not try to memorise 800 chord progressions.

    His analogy is that the melody acts like a clothes-hanger, the clothes on it are like the harmony (chord progression). When he retrieves the melody from his memory, all the harmony comes with it.

    A lot of this is down to recognising chunks of common chord moves which crop up over and over again in tunes. Also being able to play them in any key. (He has done a masterclass video about this).
    I think the important thing that needs to happen for this in my experience is that you need to learn how chord progressions sound.

    This is not an intellectual or ear training thing really; you just need to commit long term to learning a big repertoire, maybe a tune a week for a few years. Its not that hard in the end, although it is undoubtedly tough at first. It’s a matter of learning lots of tunes and you’ll hear all the cliches and sequences that crop up.

    I don’t know 800 tunes but I find for a vocal standard if I learn the melody properly the chords are usually very easy to work out. For jazz tunes it’s a little harder. But if I learned 800 prob be just as quick at those.

  9. #8

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    I use Bruce’s starter’s ten a lot in my teaching. The interesting thing is a lot of those tunes - GDS, ATTYA, Stella, TWNBAY - are quite a bit more harmonically complicated than 60 - 75% of tunes in the rep. I’m two minds as to whether that’s a good thing or not.